Homework in primary school – a good or a bad thing?

The "H" Bomb!

Last weekend, I posted a series of images taken while my 10 year old son began to plough his way through the mountain of homework he'd been saving up all week! In all fairness to him, his life is pretty full on, and after spending 1.5 hours after his school day either at hockey training, after school clubs, or on our journey home that takes at least 30-45 mins, the last thing he wants to do is start that night’s homework - especially if it’s not due in until the following Monday. However, this can soon stack up, and he often finds himself with more than one bit of homework to complete. 

Bexley family photographer Nina Callow

Two years ago, we moved our youngest boy to a school that runs from years 3 to 13 and were well aware that part of the commitment, on both his and our part, was that there would be homework set each night. Now in year 5 and already transitioning into the senior school, this homework can easily last 40 plus minutes. He gets up at 6.30am, has a packed day at his wonderful school, and by the time we are home, even on a day with no extra activities, homework, music practice, tea, showers and some downtime time, makes for a pretty hectic schedule.

Bexley family photographer Nina Callow

Homework - the debate

Yesterday’s post sparked quite a debate on my Facebook page, one which I found really interesting. My 3 boys are in 3 different schools and the homework approach of each one is very different. Together with the primary school Jackson went to initially, (both my older boys went all the way through too), you can see how homework is approached so very differently by schools. I have lots of teacher friends and some of these tell me that "homework is only set for the parents benefit".

Bexley family photographer Nina Callow

Is it a good or a bad thing

So, it’s got me thinking: homework in primary school - is it a good thing or a bad thing? And of course, I’m here to share my views! For me, it’s a good thing. Yes it’s a pain, yes it shouldn't really have anything to do with me because - and oh my goodness I'm going to sound like a broken record here: "I did my homework 20* plus years ago”, "it’s not my homework, it’s your homework", "how come you don’t get this - didn’t you do this in school today?". My understanding of homework is that it condenses what you've done that day at school, and this, on the whole, seems to be the case. But then there are days like yesterday, and we do have a few of these with my youngest son’s maths set - where it had several adults and my older teens flummoxed. I’ll share an example at the end of this blog, see what you all think, and by all means, methods and answers are much appreciated as it’s interesting to see the different ways these problems are solved. 

Bexley family photographer Nina Callow

One of the big reasons I think homework is good is because my little (not so little) man is already in the mindset of homework. When he goes into secondary school, he won't have that awful shock to the system that the other two did. He knows you simply have to get it done and if you don't get it done, you get into trouble. He understands that it benefits his learning and is something that just has to get on with. His eldest brother in particular will call Jackson "lucky" - "you’re lucky because you’re already used to it and it’s part of your life'.

Bexley family photographer Nina Callow

So, good or bad? Whatever your viewsit’s certainly a controversial subject and I’d love to know your thoughts on homework. My 3 boys have very differing amounts of homework. My year 10 seems to get little homework but is now responsible for "self study" - yup - as I’m sure you can imagine, not a lot of this gets done (another battle!!), my middle boy who is at a grammar school here in Kent, well, he gets none - he's in year 8 and all the other boys at his school whose parents I know, seem to get bucket loads. What actually happens here is Tom tells me he gets none, and then either gets up at 6am to do it the day it’s due, or does it on the bus, or even in his break time - however he gets into no trouble, and his grades are good, so I’m letting him get on with it. I guess he's doing something right or else we would definitely know as his school is strict. The little chap, well, we help him, if he needs any help, he gets his head down (most of the time) and just gets on with it.

Here is the Maths problem that caused us so many issues this weekend 2/3 of the shirts I own are plain colours, and of that 4/20 are blue. What fraction of my plain shirts are blue.


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Nina is a documentary photographer and mum of 3 boys based in Bexley Village.